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Trip Report Belated trip report of 8 nights in Paris, May 2014, part 1 planning

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This visit to Paris on our way to visit family in Genoa was the first time we'd been back in 14 years. Alas, the dollar is no longer 30% stronger than the euro, but Paris has lost none of its beauty and charm. (Background, we are in our mid fifties and sixties, speak just enough French so that people did not usually change languages for us.) Perhaps in part because we are an intercultural couple which people seem to find somewhat romantic, Parisians were once again almost universally warm and kind to us.
Our dates were determined in October both by my University's semester and by the fact that May 15 was the last day before air fares went up considerably. We were able to get a nonstop economy plus flight (well worth the extra money especially since we had emergency exit row extra extra room and just two seats together), which turned out to be even more comfortable than we had hoped, though not by any means like flying business. I slept about 6 hours, enough to make the next day quite bearable. We bought Paris museum pass at the airport when we arrived (no lines, very easy), then went on to our hotel, dropped off our luggage, and walked over to the 5th arrondissement for a steak and pommes frites lunch at the Brasserie Balthasar, which we remembered with pleasure from a previous visit. (Food excellent, they gave me a yellow rose on French mother's day as a reward for being a non ugly American--too long a story to tell). Food was still good, and also atmosphere.
The hotel decision (which my husband would describe as the hotel indecision) began right after making plane reservations. After reading guidebooks and TripAdvisor and talking to friends, we narrowed it down to 4 hotels (where we held reservations for the next four months while I went back and forth over the advantages/risks of each). In this research and general planning, I used Fodor's, Frommer's, Rough Guide, Rick Steves, Michelin, friends who live in the Marais and their father, a mentor of many years who has never failed to suggest at least one magical travel experience on every journey we have asked his advice for (his hotel choices are great but out of our budget range). I am known to friends as a guidebook geek and a hotel geek, but I happily support the travel industry with the conviction that even one excellent idea makes a guidebook worth its price.
So our final hotel choice was the Hotel Bonaparte in the sixth arrondissement, just
First the good: Fabulous location, 5 minute walk to the Luxumbourg Gardens, just next to Place St Sulpice,on a quiet street, with taxi stands, two metros and several buses right there and the Boulevard Saint Germain just a 5 minute walk away. We walked almost everywhere: 20 minutes to the Louvre, the Orsay, 25 to the Rodin museum and the Eiffel Tower, a longer but doable walk over to the Right Bank and up the Champs Élysées and over to musée Jacque-Mart André etc. Very reasonable price for a 3 star, about 180 euro (breakfast not included).
Our hotel room was large, attractively decorated in shades of grey, with a full bath and large window, more than enough space to put a week's supply of stuff out of the way. I also saw a much smaller room, freshly painted a soft taupe with large lovely bathroom. The staff graciously accommodated my request at the bed be double sheeted, as well as kindly offering themselves up as an ecole francaise, helping me improve my VERY intermediate French. Magdalena, the manager, was lovely. It's drawbacks are relatively unimportant to us: small elevator (we took the stairs), few amenities, breakfast just OK. I forgot--it was super clean,there are grocery stores nearby, and each room sports a refrigerator in which to store them. You can buy Evian at front desk, free wifi. Other hotels on our short list were more elegant (I went to look in person at 2 of them). For us, the combination of the location, the spaciousness of the room (top floor) and the kindness of the staff was unbeatable. This will be our new home in Paris.

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